I know of a man who’s struggling with simply being and not just doing. You see, he’s retired. And he doesn’t yet know what to do with himself. Literally—he up and said it one day. And my judgemental mind quickly snapped, “Maybe you just don’t know how to be with yourself.”
Some of us have become much better human doings than beings. And I’m not writing of being our authentic selves, of being alone and not bored or lonely, or of seeking and finding our solitude while reading or woodworking or fishing or doing something, anything else.
I’m writing of our apparent forgetfulness and even powerlessness in just being, without actually doing.
Doing It All
I see it everywhere, all of the time—cuss! I sometimes even live it on my own time. This minute-by-minute, modern-world fascination with busy-ness is the new cool, a status symbol. We glamorize it. We flaunt our constant busyness in the way we rush off to work or school without breakfast in our bellies, cursing the car-to-car traffic, just to enter the next meeting place right on time but out of breath.
We boast and brag about our busyness, greeting one another with our busy (but brief, of course, because we’re just so busy) little stories. We even try to out-busy one another, brandishing our busy-making gadgets and embellishing the details, depending upon to whom we’re busily blowing our own horns. It’s a busy competition, busyness.
And I think all of this busyness doing instead of sometimes just being is a self-prescribed habit, brought about, of course, by social and cultural norms and expectations. And it’s a package deal. We gain a self-induced sense of overwhelm and stress. We disconnect from ourselves and others. We’re not present for people, even though we may feel bombarded by them.
And in all this busyness we lose a natural sense of inner calm and peace, sometimes even happiness and joy. And our outlooks, emotions, relationships, and health take notice even if we don’t. Busyness and its sidekick stress alter our lives, changing us—in body, mind, and spirit. All this doing affects our well being.
Being My All
I often give myself little moments to just be and not do. And this includes excluding meditation. Meditating is actually doing something, and it’s not easy work for me either. Just being for me is sitting by myself, with myself and welcoming whatever thoughts, feelings, and chatter that may be.
The other day, I experienced some out-of-town travelling and anticipated a lengthy wait time ahead of me so I brought a book along. But I didn’t end up reading—I decided on just being. Each time I thought about picking up the book, I decided I was enjoying just being more.
I practice being. I often remind myself, sometimes grant myself permission to just be. I simply stop. I stop whatever I’m doing and start being. I sit, sometimes put my feet up, and even hit the hammock for a lie-down every now and then. I’ve gotten good at this practice and can be just about anywhere, anytime.
- I hop into the car, close the door, and just sit for a few good minutes before cranking up the engine and driving away.
- I spot chairs, benches, curbs, fallen trees, and often just the good-old ground, take a seat, and watch the world go by.
- I steal away to the ladies’ room, eliminate the frenzied worries of the world, and sit a little longer if there’s no queue.
- I announce that it’s break time for me and that I’ll be back in a minute, and then slip away into a calm, deserted spot.
- I be with nature, whether stepping outside of the building for a minute, sitting at a park, or walking into the woods.
Being isn’t complicated and it doesn’t take much time either. It’s a natural state, just being. And I think it’s good to just be, rather than pretend I’m present while all along checking out in my mind, which is what I used to do, and sometimes still find myself doing.
Doing And Being is All There Is To It
I’ve learned over the years that my life’s moments don’t have to be filled with doing. I can spend many of them just being.
This man has spent much of his life’s time doing all sorts of things, for and with himself and others—playing, schooling, working, and playing some more. Like many of us, he’s lived a busy life so far, a life full of the choices that filled his time. And he was happy to do it all too.
But I think somehow he lost sight of the balance, the sweet spot of both being and doing. And now that he’s not working, filling his days with doing, he’s suffering, he’s struggling with just being.
I wonder if this man, rather as this man begins to welcome simply being, he may also discover other things he enjoys just doing. I wonder if spending time being with himself will empower him to get to know himself a little better, to actually enjoy just being.
It works for me. But maybe it’s just my introverted leanings. Maybe I just need to be as much as other people seem to need to do. This man is an extrovert by nature. Maybe doing for him is like being for me. Maybe doing restores his energy, his essence. I wonder.
What do you think? Do you sometimes find yourself just doing human? And in what ways do you practice simply being human?
Samo Trebizan via 123RF